Cleaning out the high school notebook …
Before I get to the playoffs, the ongoing situation at Glendale Deer Valley and my choice for some postseason awards, a personal note about the Hopi people in northeastern Arizona:
I spent much of the day Wednesday at Hopi High, reporting and writing a story on Charles Youvella, the 17-year-old Hopi player who died Monday night, two days after collapsing on the football field during his team’s playoff game against Phoenix Arizona Lutheran.
Despite their grief — and having to rush to set up a memorial service Wednesday night that attracted more than 1,000 people — Hopi school officials and others in the community couldn’t have been more helpful and gracious.
They found myself and photographer Mark Henle a work room where we could plug in our computers and get wireless access, something not readily available in that part of the state. They answered every question we had, and if there was someone we needed to talk to, all we had to do was ask.
As I walked out of the school at about 8:45 p.m. a woman stopped me and insisted I take something from the dessert table that was set up for the post-service reception. When I began to protest, she said, “We want to make sure all of you (the media) get something to take with you.”
Doing a story on a teenager’s death is never easy. But the Hopi people were so accommodating I went to bed marveling at their generosity. I can’t thank them enough.
One of the lessons learned in the wake of the football controversy at Deer Valley is that rushing to judgment is a fool’s endeavor.
When the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s executive board initially suspended the entire Deer Valley athletic program because the football team had knowingly used two ineligible players in the season opener, folks howled that the punishment was too harsh, that the AIA was taking out its anger on innocent kids.
Lo and behold, when Deer Valley took disciplinary action against the administrators responsible for making the decision to play the two kids, the AIA rescinded the probation for every program, including football.
Then the other side made noise, saying 10-day unpaid suspensions for Principal Barbara Dobbs and Athletic Director John Allen weren’t sufficient. Well, as it turns out, Allen was transferred to Boulder Creek High, and Dobbs said she was told her contract won’t be renewed for the next school year.
Sometimes, it’s OK not to express an opinion, particularly when that opinion is uninformed.
And the winners are
In our weekly chat on live.azcentral.com, we’ve had debates about who should be Player of the Year and Coach of the Year.
I don’t have a vote, but if I did, here’s what my ballot would look like:
Player of the Year: Mesa Desert Ridge running back Taren Morrison. You can make a strong case for Scottsdale Saguaro quarterback Luke Rubenzer, Goodyear Desert Edge wide receiver Elijah Marks, Tempe Marcos de Niza quarterback Josh Eckley and Chandler Hamilton defensive linemen Qualen Cunningham, but I’m going with Morrison.
His numbers are ridiculous — 33 touchdowns, 2,112 yards rushing and a 9.38 average per carry — and he’s put up those stats against Division I competition. With the possible exception of Eckley, it’s hard to imagine a player being more valuable to his team.
Coach of the Year: Gilbert Mesquite’s Jim Jones. Yes, Mesquite greatly benefited by its move from Division I to Division II. Last year, Mesquite was trampled by the likes of Hamilton, Chandler, Mesa Red Mountain and Phoenix Desert Vista.
But Jones also changed the culture at Mesquite, instilling a tough, physical approach his players bought into. Mesquite was 2-8 in 2012; it’s 10-1 this season heading into Friday’s today’s quarterfinal game against Gilbert Campo Verde.
That’s Coach of the Year stuff.
A hearty welcome back to aia365.com writer and former azcentral sports scribe Jose Garcia, who suffered a heart attack in October. Good to have you writing about high school sports again, Jose.
Reach Bordow at scott.bordow @arizonarepublic.com. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/sBordow